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Iranian President says Tehran still open to direct talks with US over nuclear deal

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi suggested that the window for direct negotiations with the US on Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers was not entirely shut. 

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On Tuesday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi suggested that the window for direct negotiations with the US on Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers was not entirely shut.

Raisi said the request had been made by the US many times in recent years in a televised interview with the state broadcaster. The Iranian president also discussed the growing speculation about the two long-time adversaries sitting across the table.

In response to a question, Rais expressed: “No direct negotiations have taken place so far with the US, but we now declare that there is room for negotiation if the other side wants to lift the imposed sanctions.”

He also stated that “some countries” had conveyed the message to Iran on behalf of Washington.

Raisi’s remarks came hours after Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani said contacts between the two sides have been limited to “informal written exchanges.” The Iranian official further said there has been “no need for more.”

However, Shamkhani added that the communication method could change from informal to formal when both sides come close to a good agreement in the ongoing talks in Vienna.

The possibility of direct talks has been circulating after remarks made by Iran’s foreign minister at an event in Tehran on Monday.

During his statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian hinted at the possibility of both sides “getting to a stage where reaching a good deal with strong guarantees requires direct talks with the US.”

The US has also shown readiness for direct negotiations with Iran, with US State Department spokesperson Ned Price stating on the same day that they are ready to meet directly.

He noted that direct contact with Iran would allow “more efficient communication” to revive the deal that the former US administration withdrew from in May 2018.

“We have long held the position that it would be more productive to engage with Iran directly, on both JCPOA negotiations and other issues,” he noted, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal.

While both sides have noted “progress” in the eighth round of talks, many serious disagreements continue to prevent or at least delay a breakthrough.

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